Page images
PDF
EPUB

Yet still, when May with fragrant feet

Hath wander'd o'er your meads of gold, That dirge I hear so simply sweet

Far echo'd from each evening fold.

II.

'Twas in the pride of William's day,

When Scotland's honours flourish'd still, That Moray's earl, with mighty sway,

Bare rule o'er many a Highland hill. And far for him their fruitful store

The fairer plains of Carron spread; In fortune rich, in offspring poor,

An only daughter crownd his bed. Oh! write not poor-the wealth that flows

In waves of gold round India's throne, All in her shining breast that glows,

To Ellen's charms were earth and stone. For her the youth of Scotland sigh'd,

The Frenchman gay, the Spaniard grave, And smoother Italy applied,

And many an English baron brave. In vain by foreign arts assail'd,

No foreign loves her breast beguile. And England's honest valour fail'd,

Paid with a cold but courteous smile.

“Ah! wo to thee, young Nithisdale,

That o'er thy cheek those roses stray'd Thy breath, the violet of the vale,

Thy voice, the music of the shade!

“Ah! wo to thee, that Ellen's love

Alone to thy soft tale would yield ! For soon those gentle arms shall prove

The conflict of a ruder field.”

'Twas thus a wayward sister spoke,

And cast a rueful glance behind,
As from her dim wood-glen she broke,

And mounted on the moaning wind.

She spoke and vanish'd ; more unmoved

Than Moray's rocks, when storms invest, The valiant youth by Ellen loved,

With aught that fear or fate suggest. For love, methinks, hath power to raise

The soul beyond a vulgar state; Th' unconquer'd banners he displays

Control our fears and fix our fate.

III.

'Twas when, on summer's softest eve,

Of clouds that wander'd west away, Twilight with gentle hand did weave

Her fairy robe of night and day; When all the mountain gales were still,

And the waves slept against the shore, And the sun, sunk beneath the hill,

Left his last smile on Lammermore;

Led by these waking dreams of thought,

That warm the young, unpractised breast, Her wonted bower sweet Ellen sought, And Carron murmur'd near, and soothed her

into rest.

IV.

There is some kind and courtly sprite

That o'er the realm of fancy reigns, Throws sunshine on the mask of night,

And smiles at slumber's powerless chains;

'Tis told, and I believe the tale,

At this soft hour that sprite was there, And spread with fairer flowers the vale,

And fill'd with sweeter sounds the air. A bower he framed (for he could frame

What long might weary mortal wight: Swift as the lightning's rapid flame

Darts on the unsuspecting sight).

Such bower he framed with magic hand,

As well that wizard bard hath wove, In scenes where fair Armida's wand

Waved all the witcheries of love :

Yet was it wrought in simple show;

Nor Indian mines nor Orient shores Had lent their glories here to glow,

Or yielded here their shining stores. All round a poplar's trembling arms

The wild rose wound her damask flower; The woodbine lent her spicy charms,

That loves to weave the lover's bower.

The ash, that courts the mountain air,

In all her painted blooms array'd, The wilding's blossom blushing fair,

Combined to form the flowery shade.

With thyme that loves the brown hill's breast,

The cowslip's sweet, reclining head,
The violet of sky-woven vest,

Was all the fairy ground bespread.
But who is he, whose locks so fair
•Adown his manly shoulders flow?
Beside him lies the hunter's spear,

Beside him sleeps the warrior's bow.

He bends to Ellen-(gentle sprite,

Thy sweet, seductive arts forbear) He courts her arms with fond delight,

And instant vanishes in air.

v.

Hast thou not found, at early dawn,

Some soft ideas melt away,
If o'er sweet vale or flow'ry lawn

The sprite of dreams hath bid thee stray! Hast thou not some fair object seen,

And, when the fleeting form was past, Still on thy memory found its mien,

And felt the fond idea last?

Thou hast; and oft the pictured view,

Seen in some vision counted vain, Has struck the wondering eye anew,

And brought the long-lost dream again. With warrior-bow, with hunter's spear,

With locks adown his shoulder spread, Young Nithisdale is ranging near

He's ranging near yon mountain's head. Scarce had one pale moon pass'd away,

And fill'd her silver urn again,
When in the devious chase to stray,

Afar from all his woodland train,
To Carron's banks his fate consign'd;

And, all to shun the fervid hour,
He sought some friendly shade to find,

And found the visionary bower.

THOMAS GRAY. 1716–1771.

ODE ON A DISTANT PROSPECT OF ETON COLLEGE.

Ye distant spires, ye antique towers,

That crown the watery glade,
Where grateful science still adores

Her Henry's holy shade;
And ye, that from the stately brow
Of Windsor's heights th' expanse below

Of grove, of lawn, of mead survey,
Whose turf, whose shade, whose flowers among,
Wanders the hoary Thames along
His silver-winding way.

Ah, happy hills, ah, pleasing shade,

Ah, fields beloved in vain,
Where once my careless childhood stray'd,

A stranger yet to pain!
I feel the gales that from ye blow,
A momentary bliss bestow,

As, waving fresh their gladsome wing,
My weary soul they seem to sooth,
And, redolent of joy and youth,

To breathe a second spring.

Say, father Thames, for thou hast seen

Full many a sprightly race,
Disporting on thy margent green,

The paths of pleasure trace,
Who foremost now delight to cleave
With pliant arm thy glassy wave?

The captive linnet which enthral !
What idle progeny succeed
To chase the rolling circle's speed,

Or urge the flying ball ?

« PreviousContinue »